First COVID-19 Nightingale Hospital opens at the ExCeL


UK companies rally to build emergency hospital in just nine days

The first COVID-19 emergency response hospital has opened at the ExCeL conference centre in east London.

The NHS Nightingale Hospital opened on Friday and initially has 500 bed spaces, but will eventually be able to house up to 4,000 patients.

It is the first of a series of similar facilities planned for across the UK in the coming weeks, with others earmarked for the University of the West of England in Bristol and Harrogate Convention Centre.

Manchester Central Complex and Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre will also open their doors to patients on 12 April.

And, in Wales, 6,000 extra beds are being made available at temporary hospitals in sports and leisure centres, including Cardiff’s Principality Stadium; while, in Scotland, a temporary facility is being built at Glasgow’s Scottish Events Campus, with capacity for 1,000 beds.

Northern Ireland is also taking action, with 230 beds opening at Belfast City Hospital.

The opening of the ExCeL hospital came as the number of people who have died from coronavirus increased by more than 680 in just 24 hours, with the death toll now standing at more than 3,600, and the total number of confirmed cases reaching over 38,000.

It was officially opened by Prince Charles, who paid tribute to NHS staff via video link from his home on the royal Balmoral estate in Scotland, where he is self isolating after testing positive for COVID-19.

In his speech, he called it ‘a spectacular and almost-unbelievable feat of work’.

“It shows how the impossible could be made possible and how we can achieve the unthinkable through human will and ingenuity,” he added, saying that ‘In this dark time, this place will be a shining light’.

The hospital took nine days to be transformed by more than 160 contractors and 200 army engineers working 15-hour shifts.

It will have 80 wards of 42 beds and is being staffed by 16,000 workers, including student nurses, medical students who have started work early, and former doctors, nurses and other staff who have come out of retirement.

It will care for intensive care patients who have been transferred from other London hospitals.

The work was overseen by main contractor, CFES, working with contractors including Midas Group and architectural practice, BDP.

Arjo supplied beds for the newly-opened Nightingale Hospital at the ExCeL centre in east London

Arjo supplied beds for the newly-opened Nightingale Hospital at the ExCeL centre in east London

Describing the project as ‘intense and exhausting’, BDP has since drawn up a poster collating the various concepts adopted in order that the information can be disseminated quickly to other groups across the country and overseas.

Arjo UK is among furniture suppliers to the project, having deployed hundreds of its patient beds over recent days.

And Checkit has donated its Tutela medical monitoring system to help protect critical assets from temperature variations, reduce the manual burden on staff, and maintain the highest storage standards in accordance with CQC and HTA requirements.

The firm is now discussing similar deployments at the Manchester and Birmingham facilities.

ISS will provide all cleaning, portering, waste management and other ‘soft FM’ services at the ExCeL.

For the Birmingham hospital, Interserve will lead the construction operation, with an initial 600 beds, rising to 4,000 in total. It will also build a drive-through testing centre.

It is believed that Vinci will construct the Manchester ward, while BAM is working on two emergency wards, though their location is not yet known.

The new hospitals are being procured through the P22 framework, which has been extended for up to 12 months to support the NHS through the COVID-19 pandemic.

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